This year we decided that we’d combine our family summer vacation with just a bit of business, so we’re heading to Amman, Jordan and Dubai, UAE. We’ll be traveling with my youngest daughter, her 22 month old son, and two grandsons ages 7 and 13. The kids are all seasoned travelers so the long plane rides from Honolulu have never been an issue.
When we travel to Dubai we always take Emirate Airlines, they have some of the newest planes in the industry, direct flights from many major US cities, and excellent in flight service. This year would be no different, we knew we’d be traveling with Emirate Airlines out of Houston, it was finding the time to book tickets that was the issue.
Frustrated I gave up booking online at Emirates.com, none of the itineraries that popped up matched the schedule my husband had been told about. Every itinerary had long lay overs and I couldn’t figure out how to supposedly get a free hotel room due to the long lay over. It was time to call the airlines.
I was a bit worried when I decided to call their 800 number, calls to other airlines have often ended in even more frustration with endless hold times, language barriers (I fail to understand why I must converse with heavily accented people in some far off call center when I’m calling a US based airline), rude agents, and generally poor customer service.
I dialed the 800 hundred number and of course got the recorded message, “Thank you for calling Emirates Airlines….press 1 for the rewards desk…2 for new bookings…” I pressed 2 and was pleasantly surprised that it was answered immediately by a live person! No holds, no canned music, no waiting! I was talking to a live agent! I knew there was a reason they’re always rated one of the top airlines in the world.
He introduced himself and asked how he could help me. I told him my online issues. He said he’d be happy to either walk me thru the online process or he’d make the booking for me. He did inform me that internet fares were the lowest, phone booking would cost slightly more, however, he would match the internet fare for me.
We proceeded with the booking, we choose flights, he was concerned about the long layover because we had children, but promptly informed me that once the tickets were issued he’d see if we were eligible for the free hotel room. Apparently Emirates offers courtesy hotel rooms for travelers with long layovers but the itinerary must meet certain criteria. I’m not sure what all the rules are, but booking a flight when the long layover is the only itinerary available is one of them.
As I was giving him our information our call got cut off. I went into a panic because I didn’t want to start the process again, but the agent immediately called me back and we were able to continue with the booking. Once he got all the information he told me he would request bulkhead seats and a bassinet for the baby and kid meals for the all the children. He informed me that it would take 24-48 hours to request the seats and that I needed to call them back to check on it.
He took my credit card information and informed me the booking was complete but the tickets would not be issued until their security department verified my payment, that could take up to 6 hours. He was quite concerned about our time difference and knew it was quite late where I was calling from, he was in Dubai where it was noontime. I told him I’d be up for another couple of hours at which point he told me that if he got verification within that time he would call me back and he would also know if we were going to get a hotel room. If not then he would send everything via email.
He called me back an hour later, the etickets had been issued and we were eligible for the hotel room. Unfortunately we couldn’t confirm the room at that time because he needed every traveler’s passport number, I didn’t have that on hand. I was told to call back when I had them and they’d get the room, by then perhaps we’d have word on the seat assignments as well.
I called the same 800 number the next morning and got a different agent, again no waiting, no hold time, just a live agent right away. This guy was just as helpful. He booked 3 rooms for me and told me transfers to and from the airport to hotel were included. However there was still not word on the seat assignments.
I called 2 days later and got the agent who made the booking for me, surprisingly he remembered my name. He was able to confirm bulkhead seats for us and added the birthday treat form my grandson.
Children traveling on their birthday get a surprise that includes a birthday cake and a picture with the flight crew.
We’ve flown with Emirates several times and have always had amazing in flight service; but we’ve usually flown business or first class where good service is expected. This is the first time we will be flying coach, there’s just too many of us flying, any other class of service is cost prohibitive, at least for us. I was a bit weary about flying coach, but after my phone experience I’m sure we will have an excellent trip.
My daughter and grandsons are already excited about the flight in spite of the long hours we will be enroute. Emirates promises to take great care of the kids, they will be giving each child a furry “monster” and other travel packs to keep them busy, they have free entertainment for them as well.
They advertise great services and amenities for their young fliers, they even provide baby strollers to use at their airport! They seem to be truly family friendly!
To be fair I had to opportunity to book flights with Delta’s phone agent a couple of months ago. I had to book my 2 grandsons unaccompanied minor tickets from Atlanta to Honolulu. The number to call is specific for unaccompanied minors so there really wasn’t a wait time, the agent answered right away. He was very helpful and caring. We got those tickets booked without fuss or bother; but Delta is one of the few US companies that make the world’s top airlines list. We try to fly Delta within the US and sometime to Europe, I have to admit in my opinion they are better than most US airlines.
I’m looking forward to our flights to Dubai and Amman on Emirates. I’m sure it will meet my expectations. I’ll tell you all about it this summer!